On this popular blog, University of Arkansas education professor Jay Greene takes a new Fordham Institute report to task.

Fordham has a new report out that claims to have discovered three warning signs in charter applications that make those charters more likely to have low-performance in their initial years.  If this were true, it would be a major development given that prior research has failed to find characteristics of charter applications that predict later academic outcomes.  Unfortunately, a straightforward interpretation of the results in Fordham’s new report suggests that there are no reliable predictors of charter failure.

The report authors examined charter school applications in Colorado, Indiana, North Carolina, and Texas between 2009–10 and 2014–15.  They concluded that there are three “risk factors” associated with weak charter applications: lack of identified leadership, charters that have an insufficient plan for serving low-income children, and the use of a child-centered curriculum.

Greene points out, among other things, that their methodology is flimsy.  He writes, ” the authors engage in a convoluted exercise in data mining to see if they can’t turn up some more palatable and marketable results.”